Boston Celtics stars predicted to stifle Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam in Eastern Conference Finals

Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls
Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

No Kristaps Porzingis? No problem. Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey believes that the Indiana Pacers' two surging stars, Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam, will be handled by the Boston Celtics' healthy stars in the Eastern Conference Finals.

"With Jrue Holiday and Derrick White, it is uniquely capable of bothering Tyrese Haliburton," Bailey prefaced before saying, "Pascal Siakam's size could be an issue as long as Porziņģis is out, but Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can both stifle his actions from the perimeter."

Those opinions coincide with Bailey's bold prediction for the Eastern Conference Finals: a Celtics sweep after two gentlemen's sweeps against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

"With the Finals now looming, expect Boston to lock in and win four straight competitive games," Bailey wrote.

Boston Celtics risk facing trap series against underrated Pacers team

There's been some flat-out disrespectful takes about the Pacers since they clinched their ECF berth in a dominant Game 7 showing against the New York Knicks. Some have called them the worst conference finals team in recent memory while others have claimed that a Pacers-Dallas Mavericks series wouldn't even be worth a primetime television slot.

The latter criticisms are humorous but unfair, while the former criticism feels like sour grapes after the media darling Knicks fell short following a season of NY being hyped as a championship contender.

Regardless of those takes, Indiana cannot be taken for granted. If the Celtics allow role players like Aaron Nesmith or Andrew Nembhard open looks, Boston can be burned by the three-point shot; much in the same vein if they don't try to exploit the Pacers' iffy defensive starting frontcourt in the paint and settle for too many jumpers themselves.

If Joe Mazzulla doesn't allow his guys to let up on the gas pedal, this should be a clear-cut series. But the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals definitely leave a sour taste in one's mouth.